The Marshall Lions Club welcomed Harrison County Sheriff Brandon “BJ” Fletcher on March 7. Fletcher assumed office in January 2021 and since his assumption, he has instituted several actions to make Harrison County the best possible version of itself — and the Fletchers are Harrison County’s modern day version of Blue Bloods. Sheriff Fletcher’s grandfather was a Department of Public Safety trooper who retired in the 1990s, and his father was assistant chief of police in Marshall. There is little doubt that we owe a debt of gratitude for selfless service of the entire family supporting the East Texas region.
During Fletcher’s previous visit in February 2022, he discussed the partnership between the Harrison County Sheriff’s Department and the Marshall Police Department that led to stand-up of the Violent Crime Task Force. And the mechanism in place between Sheriff Fletcher and Chief Carruth’s team has fully functioned, with overwhelming support of not only the Criminal District Attorney (the Honorable Reid McCain), but more importantly, the County Judge (the Honorable Chad Sims). This partnership has led to search warrants being served on over 50 houses and a lot of illegal drugs and money confiscated and taken off the streets throughout the county. According to Sheriff Fletcher, there was a Task Force shift in response to city-wide shootings, but use of informants led to the arrest of 42 suspects in those cases allowing Marshall, Texas to be a safer place.
Sheriff Fletcher strongly believes that as things go, they often change. As an example, Judge Sims recently called him to his office to discuss his department. And in that moment, with his department running well, he was handed the keys to oversee Harrison County Fire Marshal’s office. The initiative was voted on by the Commissioner’s Court, and the dream became a reality.
At the time, the Fire Marshal team was understaffed, which presented challenges in carrying out day-to-day responsibilities for the county. While most would consider the Fire Marshal’s office being swamped with handling fire cause and origin and arson investigations, the fact is most of their responsibilities involve inspections of local businesses and day care facilities, new building fire code inspections, enforcement of environmental waste laws, liaison to the Commissioner’s Court for the 15 volunteer fire and EMS departments in the county, as well as chairing the local Emergency Planning Committee and providing oversight of the hazardous material reports filed by various businesses as directed by the State of Texas. And if that was not enough, the team manages an inmate crew performing roadside clean-up and the team oversees enforcement of illegal dumping, holding those responsible accountable.
Within two weeks, the Fire Marshal office was back at full staffing, enabling the Fire Marshal, Duana “DJ” Couch, to lead the team in doing what it does best — supporting the citizens of Harrison County. Fire Marshal Couch’s team is now comprised of Jamie McConnell (Assistant Fire Marshall), Darrell Pruitt (Deputy Fire Marshall), Blake Bolander (Environmental Response Tech), Blaire Maranto (Environmental Health Tech) and Velma Taylor (Administrative Assistant). Under Couch’s leadership, the team has also benefitted from information technology upgrades that enable the group to work more efficiently in serving the community.
As Sheriff Fletcher closed, he encouraged citizens of the community to take advantage of their ride-a-long program. After signing a waiver, you can accompany a patrol officer on shift as they travel throughout the county and protect and serve its great citizens. He encouraged following Harrison County Marshall Texas Sheriff’s Office on Facebook. His team provides updates twice daily. Further, all are welcome to listen to Sheriff Fletcher each Monday morning, except for holidays, on KMHT radio, 103.9 FM as he gives a Sheriff Department update.
Those interested in learning more about Marshall Lions Club and/or becoming a Lion can attend a noon Tuesday meeting in the Panola Harrison Cooperative Building located at 410 E. Houston St. in Marshall.
Lion Stan Spence and Harrison County Sheriff Brandon “BJ” Fletcher are pictured.